New Hendrix Due Out on CD and Vinyl
In 1969, Jimi Hendrix, owing an album to Capitol Records, decided to deliver a live performance to the label. Enlisting the support of his friends and fellow musicians Buddy Miles (drums) and Billy Cox (bass), he set the stage for the now-legendary Band of Gypsys New Year's performances at the Fillmore East.
Named by Hendrix to distinguish the new trio from his regular group, The Experience, the Band of Gypsys tapped into Hendrix's funk and jazz roots (which had been less pronounced in his earlier studio work), merging rock and soul. Free-flowing jams are coupled with more sparse, introspective workouts demonstrating Hendrix's unparalleled range as guitarist, lyricist, and vocalist.
The public lifespan of the Band of Gypsys was brief. Of the band's five performances, including an appearance at Madison Square Garden in January 1970, only the four Fillmore East concerts were recorded.
"Jimi's concerts at the Fillmore East represent an incredible period in his own career as well as in music in general," says Experience Hendrix president Janie Hendrix. "Our release of Live at the Fillmore East captures this time, when long-established musical boundaries were being leapt over and torn down by Jimi, who, throughout his career, charged ahead as a pioneer in music."
Six songs from the Fillmore East concerts were originally released by Capitol Records in April 1970 as Band of Gypsys. Considered a staple of the Jimi Hendrix catalog and revered as a live performance album, Band of Gypsys has exceeded two million units in sales. Earlier this year, Experience Hendrix remastered the set and reissued it domestically on Capitol, internationally on MCA. In 1986 Capitol released Band of Gypsys 2, a six-track follow-up to the first album that, in light of poor sound quality and the subsequent discovery that three of the collection's tracks did not feature the Band of Gypsys, was deleted from the catalog in 1989, never having been issued on CD.
Experience Hendrix/MCA's release of Jimi Hendrix: Live at the Fillmore East seeks to set the record straight. Produced by Janie Hendrix, John McDermott, and original Hendrix engineer Eddie Kramer, the 2-CD set will include the only known live Hendrix versions of "Auld Lang Syne," "Earth Blues," "Stepping Stone," and "Burning Desire." Also included will be Hendrix classics specific to the performances that were rarely, if ever, again heard live: "Izabella," "Power of Soul," and "Who Knows," as well as alternate versions of songs contained on the original Band of Gypsys album: "We Gotta Live Together" (newly expanded to 9:55), two versions of "Machine Gun," and the aforementioned "Power of Soul" and "Who Knows." Two tracks that were among those on Band of Gypsys 2, "Stop" and "Hear My Train A-Comin'," will be presented with better sound than in the original release, and classic performances of "Voodoo Child, Slight Return," "Changes," "Stone Free," and "Wild Thing" round out the set.
And there's more: To coincide with the release of Jimi Hendrix: Live at the Fillmore East, Experience Hendrix has produced Jimi Hendrix: Band of Gypsys, a documentary featuring the only known performance footage of the group. Produced in conjunction with Apple/Arweld Ltd., the folks responsible for the Beatles Anthology, the documentary will be aired throughout the world as an hour-long TV special; an 83-minute version will be released on home video in February. Both versions of the documentary feature interviews with Experience members Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell, as well as Band of Gypsys members Billy Cox and Buddy Miles. As a bonus, the long-form video will feature additional performances from the guitarist's December 31, 1969 and January 1, 1970 concerts that have not been included as part of Live at the Fillmore East.